PSU Quick Hitters from Dublin

Cleaning out the notebook after a couple of day following the Nittany Lions in Ireland.

DUBLIN -- A series of quick hitters from Ireland as Penn State prepares to face UCF in the Croke Park Classic here Saturday.

MILES COMING ALONG

It was kind of surprising to see Penn State senior offensive guard Miles Dieffenbach in full practice gear Wednesday, even if he was in a light blue jersey (indicating he was injured).

One of two returning starters on the Nittany Lion line, Dieffenbach sustained a torn ACL early in spring practice, an injury that required surgery. Many just assumed he'd be out for the entire 2014 campaign (his final season of eligibility). But during the summer, he revealed that he hoped to be back by the end of year.

Asked about Dieffenbach after Wednesday's practice, PSU coach James Franklin said the following:

“He's our assistant offensive line coach. Him and Herb Hand work with those guys. Miles is a special kid. From Day One, when he faced his adversity -- how he handled it, he's so positive, he's so optimistic. And I actually think that's why he's doing so well.

“So far so good. Hopefully he'll be back here soon. You never know, maybe he'll run out in the game and start on Saturday. Keep you guys on your toes.”

“You guys,” in this instance, meant the media. And the fact that Franklin threw that line in there would seem to indicate there is no chance Dieffenbach will play Saturday.

However, simply being back in full gear this soon appears to bode well for a return later in the season.

UPDATE: Dieffenbach was not in uniform for the squad's Thursday afternoon practice.

BETTER LATE THAN EARLY?

After Wednesday's practice at University College Dublin, Franklin was asked about true freshman receiver DeAndre Thompkins. Despite enrolling in January, Thompkins is currently listed as a fourth-teamer at one of the three WR spots.

Franklin took the occasion to point out something few had considered.

“There were actually five guys who came in at mid-semester, but for some reason we always talk about DeAndre Thompkins. I don't think any of those guys right now are on the first or second team.”

“There were actually five guys who came in at mid-semester, but for some reason we always talk about DeAndre Thompkins,” Franklin said. “I don't think any of those guys right now are on the first or second team.”

He was not technically Wright, er, right on that.

Thompkins is listed as a fourth-teamer. Defensive tackles Antoine White and Tarow Barney, as well as quarterback Michael O'Connor, are listed as third-teamers.

Only Chasz Wright is listed as a second-teamer (at right offensive tackle). But in reality, if starter Andrew Nelson goes down, guard Brendon Mahon would probably bump out to tackle.

So practically speaking, none of the January enrollees is even a primary backup.

In the meantime, several June enrollees have quickly climbed the depth chart. Second-teamers include receivers Saaed Blacknall and Chris Godwin, quarterback Trace McSorley, and linebacker Jason Cabinda.

Franklin did eventually have more to say about Thompkins, who was the fastest player on the team in the spring.

“DeAndre is in great shape for a true freshman who just showed up on campus,” Franklin said. “He's extremely fast. He's a great kid. I think he needs to get a little bigger and stronger. He needs to play fast within the scheme.

“He could still end up having a huge factor with us this year, depending on how things go,” the coach added.

However, a redshirt is more likely for Thompkins.

FLYIN' LIONS

Penn State cornerback Jordan Lucas is comfortable facing the pressure of man-to-man coverage of top opposing receivers on national TV. But when it came to flying from North America to Europe, he admitted to being a bit wary.

After all, it was his first trip outside of the United States.

“I'm sure a lot of guys were nervous, because I know a lot of guys on the team haven't been overseas before,” Lucas said. “But the flight was good. They treated us very well, all the flight attendants. Everybody was very nice. We appreciated that and we're just happy to be here.”

“Coming across the ocean is kind of a big deal,” added tight end Jesse James. ”It's a long flight over the sea. But after we were up there, I think most guys were fine. But some of the guys, it was the first time they were in a plane. So it was definitely a different experience for a guy like that.”

Lucas was asked who was the most nervous among his teammates. He smiled.

“I wouldn't tell on them to give you all their little secrets and everything,” he said.


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